Page 27 of The Secret Father

‘The studio can leak as many fictional stories as they like about me and my latest leading lady. I’ll even pose for the photos—but they won’t get a picture of me with you. I’ll do the rounds and publicise this film, but at the end of the day what I do, and with whom, is my business.’ The sobriety of his expression was broken by a sudden wicked grin. ‘At least we don’t have to worry about tele-photo lenses out here.’

‘There’s probably a satellite somewhere up there.’ She dreamily sketched a wide arc above her head. ‘Someone, somewhere is watching us.’ She tried to match his casual humour, but the ferocity of his provocative stare as it roamed over her half-clad figure was too distracting to resist. Her skin tingled with anticipation of his masterly touch.

‘Let them look! I don’t need any help to remember exactly how you look now in the sunlight. I’m making a complete mental inventory so I can compare it to how you’ll look later, when I make love to you under the moon.’

‘You’re planning on doing that?’ She reached up and grasped his firm buttocks in her hands. She had no intention of playing hard to get, not when the erotic promise in his voice had her shaking with feverish desire.

‘A lot depends on your co-operation,’ he admitted huskily.

‘I might be persuaded…’ Her words were lost in the warm recesses of his mouth.

It wasn’t as warm now and Lindy had retreated to the cabin to pull on a cotton sweater over her shirt. She’d spent the last hour in the cockpit and her head was spinning with nautical terms. Sam had assured her that the technology took all the hard work out of navigation, but she had other thoughts on the subject.

When she returned to the cockpit Lindy could tell immediately from his expression that something was wrong. The smile faded from her face.

‘I’ve been talking to the coastguard. The storm front they were expecting tomorrow night is ahead of schedule.’

‘What does that mean?’ She tried to hide the disappointment that bit deep.

‘It means I have to take you ashore tonight. I’ll take her south of the point before it gets too rough to chance navigating the bar. She’ll be sheltered from the worst of it there.’

‘Do we have to?’ Lindy could hardly believe the faint tremor in her voice. From Sam’s sharp look he had heard it too. God, don’t go all clinging and pathetic on him, Lindy, girl, she told herself. ‘Would you if you were alone?’ she asked in a more self-possessed tone.

‘I’m not alone; I’ve got a priceless cargo to consider.’

It took her a few seconds to realise what he meant. A flush of pleasure washed over her skin. ‘I’m sorry if I’ve spoilt it for you.’ The way he was looking at her made her feel precious and cherished. The experience was novel and strangely satisfying. Men didn’t, as a rule, feel the need to cherish Lindy. She appeared far too capable and cool to incite such chivalrous responses.

Sam took her chin in his fingers. ‘You haven’t spoilt anything for me.’ His stare was deeply compelling. ‘Sure, I’m disappointed, but there will be plenty of other times.’

There would! She could feel herself glowing with pleasure. Any smugger and I’ll start purring, she thought, startled by the strength of her own response. ‘Won’t a landlubber like me cramp your style?’

‘I was a landlubber once myself.’

‘You were?’ She was genuinely shocked; the sea seemed very much his natural environment. She’d assumed he’d inherited the knowledge—he seemed to belong. His lithe body moved over the heaving boat in a sure-footed and natural manner which she envied and loved to watch.

‘Sure. I hail from land-locked Ohio. I’m a farm boy. I first stepped on a boat when I was nineteen. I got work on the coast, in the docks. One day they were doing a photo shoot on a yacht in the bay. A group of us stayed after work to watch, heckle a bit and watch the babes.’ His ironic, self-deprecating grin flashed out. ‘The guy who was meant to be modelling kept turning green every time they cast off. For some reason the woman who was in charge of the shoot grabbed me and I thought, What the hell? I already had my shirt off, and it couldn’t be that hard to smile at a camera! Please don’t tell Hope I said that or she’ll have my hide. I was only nineteen, with all the arrogance of youth.’

‘Some things never change.’ Lindy could almost visualise the bold-eyed, bronzed, bare-chested youth he had been. Sam might wonder why the woman had selected him, but she didn’t!

Sam just grinned in response. ‘I ended up on the inside spread of some glossy and I got my first taste of a deck under my feet. The photos led to a part in a TV show, and the rest, as they say, is history. I bought Jennifer with the proceeds of my first film.’ His eyes rose towards her masts.